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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        1  April 2011

Vietnamese agricultural imports are too high

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An estimated US$3.3 billion was spent on imports for the agricultural and forestry industry in the first quarter of this year, a year-on-year decrease of 5.9 percent, said the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Although value had dropped, it was still too high if you took into account the fact that Viet Nam was an agricultural country, the ministry said.

Fertilizer imports accounted for $122 million of that figure and pesticides made up a further $131 million.

Nearly $210 million was spent on wood and wood-based products. Rubber imports were estimated at $193 million, up by 36 percent over the same quarter last year.

"Recently, we have imported a large volume of fruit from mainland China. Measures need to be taken to limit this," said Pham Tat Thang from the Trade Research Institute.

Explaining why Vietnam had imported fruit from China, secretary of the Viet Nam Fruit and Vegetable Association Nguyen Van Ky said that northern provinces often imported from China to cut transportation costs.

It was cheaper to import fruit from China than to transport from southern provinces, he said. Ky, however, agreed that the country should not import fruit that could be grown in Viet Nam, such as oranges, mangoes and grapes.

"Every nation has a demand for imports and exports. When living standards are high, people like to splash out on exotic fruit. However, we produce a lot of cheap, high quality fruit in Viet Nam, so we should not have to import a high volume," he added.

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